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Wikicities + Joi + JLevine = Wikia, Mark II


The Company Formerly Known As Wikicities, the world’s largest provider of MediaWiki hosting (and employer of an increasing number of my friends), this month closed a $4M round of series A funding from Omidyar and Bessemer Ventures (whence new board member Jeremy Levine) and a few lucky individuals (including one-name stealth disco star and serial board member Joi).  Congratulations all around.

Finding times when all board members are on terra firma at the same
time may be difficult… but with modern technology, also increasingly
unnecessary.  (I look forward to a photoset from inside Wikia Force One.)

The company is now known as Wikia (sometimes “”), a name which you may recall fromits former life, adorning a related search engine portal.  It continues to host the world’s drollest wiki, and will hopefully be yet another channel for MediaWiki development, so that all those fine programmers still sitting on the fence about which wiki platform to use with can make up their minds with light heart and easy conscience.  Perhaps we need a live ticker…

“MediaWiki.  Powering 3.00001542% of the world’s public web pages.”

Anyway, Wikia has only been getting better this past year.  If you’ve had a burning idea you want to turn into a wiki, think about hosting with them.  Unlike every other online community aggregator I’ve seen to date, they really understand the need for free licensing, the importance of linking projects together and avoiding redundancy, and the utility of guiding communities towards producing meaningful lasting bodies of content, not just short-term attention sinks.  (I used to direct people at times to pbwiki and other hosts, but I have little patience for any ‘wiki’ whose default state is not world-editable.  For crying out loud…  why should every site need a ‘wiki password’ you must know to edit it?   I’ve stopped counting the number of pbwikis I’ve been foiled from editing, and I’ve stopped telling people about the site.  Sorry, David! :-/ )

WikiWednesday Boston report: better late than sober


The first Boston Wiki Wednesday was a success, though it got started at
11pm rather than 6. Of the 5 people who had RSVP’ed, some had other
plans in the early evening, so we rescheduled…  Ivan and I
grabbed dinner at Nine Tastes
instead.  We were soon joined by Dustin, Erik, and her
Starkness.  They knew the beautiful people sitting next to us,
naturally. We covered speed reading and salsa preferences.

Later that night, we invited the Harvard Free Culture club to come join us at John Harvard’s; and talked about the Penn State wiki, wysiwyg dominance
of the editing world, why all the wiki software companies are on the
wrong coast, rewriting MediaWiki in Python, and the meaning of the
phrase “structured multilingual API”.  A moderate quantity of beer
and coke was consumed, theoretically putting SocialText out twenty-one

Next Wednesday will be Wiki as well, when David Weinberger sounds off about trust, anonymity, and wiki editorial practices, at 6pm at Berkman.  Come join us.

Clinton and Janeane Garofalo


So I landed on a random “brushes with celebrity” page while stalking my favorite American actress, and found this charming vignette about our Prez– :

In the fall of 2004, right before his bypass surgery I was sitting around the parking lot of Central Park’s ‘Tavern on the Green’, and out walks this handsome looking guy with white hair and a suit, casually leaving the place like he was Joe Schmo.

I looked at this guy long and hard and realised that it was Bill Clinton.

Apparently, so did dozens of other people. Someone (who was apparently a Republican) heckled him about raising taxes. Now, normally when a former president encounters a loser like this, he smiles waves and gets whisked away in his limousine.

But, Bill Clinton started debating him! The secret service guys were going nuts as an entire crowd of blue-staters formed to watch the former president and this dude with a stroller arguing over economic policies.

Then he took questions from the normal people off the street that gathered around him. NYC parks officials were called down to patrol the scene. He also took pictures with tourists, mostly young and female.

Bob Zmuda, Eat your heart out.

Presentation on Wikipedia research tonight!


On Monday, February 13th, at 7 pm, join the Boston Wikipedia Meetup Group
and the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science
Alumni Board in the Special Functions Room, first floor, Main College
Building of Simmons College for an introduction to researching
effectively with Wikipedia. We will cover finding information, cross-referencing and validating information, and contacting original authors.

We will also explore where to ask for help, how to make changes to articles, other ways to contribute to the community, and Wikimania.  Also local wiki groups and ways to get yourself or your group involved with local wikiphiles.

afterwards at Thornton’s Fenway Grille, at 9 pm. : call 617.529.4266 for help getting there

Directions to Thornton’s

The blurring of “official record” lines


The traditional lines of ‘official records
which are available for public perusal and archived forever, as
distinct from events that are observed in person and passed on by word
of mouth, have become much blurred
with recent improvements in recording devices, distribution/storage
methods, and penetration of same.  It is among other things a
testament to increasingly effective archiving that the decision to
strike from the record Representative Jean Schmidt(R-Ohio)‘s words [Directed at Rep. Murtha], at the end of this C-SPAN video segment from November 18, is largely moot.

Without objection, the gentlelady’s words will be withdrawn“…
but withdrawn from what?  from the public record that is
thoroughly and reliably archived, but hard to find online; not from the
unofficial, widely-distributed public record, less consistent but much
easier to find.


Alchemy: mix Berkeley, Berkman, and Ber^B^BGillmor…


This Spring, a nonprofit Center for Citizen Media will be formed
by Dan Gillmor, with support from Berkeley’s school of journalism,
Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for internet and society, and the
karma gods,  “to study, encourage and help enable the emergent grassroots media sphere, with a major focus on citizen journalism.

Looking forward to more news on this front.

Wikipedia watching : Steve Rubel, Islam


Steve Rubel outdoes himself with some wikipedia hacks for newcomers, and just today promotes WP to disruptive monarch.  He seems to have a growing love affair with the project, but expresses that enthusiasm in odd ways.

Meanwhile, the Finnish Wikipedia’s article on Islam was panned by Finnish economics magazine Taloussanomat (here I link to their pda-friendly site; their main pager crashes my Firefox),
which did a sampling of WP articles and gave it a rating of 1/10. 
It is worth noting that the Hebrew and Russian language-versions of the
article ( אסלאם and Исла́м, respectively ) have been featured as excellent articles in their languages; the English article Islam, on the other hand, failed a recent featured-article candidacy (though it remains on the new and growing list of  ‘good articles‘ [which I hope to see expand to 2% of the entire work]) and — while full of information — could use some cleaning up.

The responsibility of government for the public safety


“The responsibility of government for
the public safety is absolute, and requires no mandate.  It is in
fact the prime object for which governments come into existence.” — Churchill.

Timeless footage from last week: Keith Olbermann steps back from his normal perspective and delicately eviscerates federal leaders over their responses to Katrina.

And, crass but still almost as cathartic, here’s the ill will press on the subject. 

Weinberger on the brain


The Weinberger talks tonight, restarting his “mind and clueful chatter over matter” series at Berkman, and two weeks from now at the KM Cluster summit in Waltham.  Don’t miss a single episode…

In other news, Erik Moeller has an incisive analysis of how -NC licenses (like cc-by-nc) are harmful.  He doesn’t go so far as to classify when they are useful (the
most productive way to speak ill of a tool), and he relies a bit too
heavily on Wikimedia examples for my tastes (there are all sorts of community factors at work making these projects successful, not simply what kind of license was chosen), but it is worth reading carefully.

New Orleans flooding: dynamic map overlay


Database-backed GMap flood-data overlay, for the entire city.

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